What is the test for overruling an objection to a prosecutor's statement?

California, United States of America

The following excerpt is from People v. Hernandez, F074763 (Cal. App. 2019):

"As a general matter, an appellate court reviews a trial court's ruling on prosecutorial misconduct for abuse of discretion." (People v. Alvarez (1996) 14 Cal.4th 155, 213.) The overruling of an objection to the prosecutor's statements implies a finding prosecutorial misconduct did not occur. (See ibid.) For the following reasons, we conclude the trial court was within its discretion to overrule the objection.

"When attacking the prosecutor's remarks to the jury, the defendant must show that, '[i]n the context of the whole argument and the instructions' [citation], there was 'a reasonable likelihood the jury understood or applied the complained-of comments in an improper or erroneous manner. [Citations.] In conducting this inquiry, we "do not lightly infer" that the jury drew the most damaging rather than the least damaging meaning from the prosecutor's statements.'" (People v. Centeno (2014) 60 Cal.4th 659, 667.) "If the challenged comments, viewed in context, 'would have been taken by a juror to state or imply nothing harmful, [then] they obviously cannot be deemed objectionable.'" (People v. Cortez (2016) 63 Cal.4th 101, 130.)

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